Wellness may seem like just another modern buzzword, but it’s actually an integral tool for running a successful salon.
While we know it’s not always easy to manage a team of hairstylists, colourists and other staff—all with individual needs, skills, goals and, of course, personalities, fostering a healthy salon environment can help keep everyone happy and on the path to success.
For salon owners, this means less dissatisfied employees, and as a result, lower turnover rates and fewer walkouts. Instead, you’ll be left with more time for servicing clients and a motivated team that will produce even better results.
Problem: Team Bullying
Think bullying is just a playground issue? Think again! Unfortunately, it’s still relevant in the workplace—especially in salons.
With more than 20 years of experience in leadership, teamwork and communication, Peter Mahoney, president of Summit Salon Business Center and Salon Consultants Inc., says many managers often think it’s best not to fuel staff conflicts with attention, but it may be doing more harm than good.
“Be proactive, not reactive,” he recommends. “True leadership is about having conversations that no one really wants to have. But if you quickly clean up the little messes, you’ll never have to clean up big ones.”
With that said, it’s also important not to cross the line into micromanaging. “It’s important to give your team the resources they need so they can learn to be leaders and defuse the situation,” says Siobhan Griffiths, manager at Toronto-based Evolve Hair Studio, which is well-known for their positive core values of leadership, balance, respect and sustainability.
Problem: Difficult Clients
Dealing with clients that may exhibit rude or problematic behaviour towards your staff can really put a damper on team morale. However, Griffiths says the best long-term solution is to instill the values of respect and empathy amongst your team. These values will lead to positive communication with the client—even if they are being difficult—without escalating the situation or ruining anyone’s day.
“Sometimes stylists can get too defensive and butt heads. That’s when you end up with an awful Google review, and with a client who is never going to come back and will tell everyone she knows how awful her experience was,” she says. “You can turn that around by how you react to the situation. We need to really dig deep, be a bit more empathetic and listen to what their needs are, and then come together to find a solution.”
Problem: Overworked Staff
Every salon goes through busy seasons that can often leave stylists stressed and exhausted—both physically and mentally. To avoid burnouts, Griffiths established a 40-hour work-week cap, and steps in whenever she can to help with time-consuming tasks, such as sweeping or washing colour bowls. Mahoney also established an hour-trading system, which allows stylists the option to work extra hours during busy seasons in exchange for time off.
Problem: Low Morale
One of the best ways to boost morale in your salon is to foster a healthy working relationship with your team. “People want to work for people who care—there has to be a connection,” says Mahoney. “It’s not about me; it’s about their goal, their journey and how I can help them to get there. If you want to build a strong culture, it starts with a leader that has a vision and can clearly communicate it.”
On a day-to-day basis, try team-building activities that can help your staff bond. Canadian professional beauty consultant Kim Tanner, who has worked in the industry for more than 30 years and has consulted with leading hair and nail brands, such as Amika and Gelish, recommends organizing team challenges or events.
“It helps for your team to like each other to work well together and extracurricular activities are a fun way to achieve that,” she says. “The problem with cliques is that one or two stylists may really like each other and get along, but that automatically excludes everyone else.”
Tanner adds that “finding an activity that brings the whole team together will foster a more inclusive environment, which helps everyone.” If you’re in need of some ideas, consider starting a team book club, planning a wine and paint night, or organize a team trip to hair shows or awards (eg. the Contessas!) to get creative ideas flowing. “Not everyone is going to get along all the time, but when stylists see the owner instilling these values into their workplace, that will automatically make it a friendlier and warmer environment,” says Tanner.
Lastly, to ensure your team comes to work with the proper mindset, it’s important to give them the tools and support they need to succeed. According to Griffiths, team meetings that focus on styling and business, along with wellness topics can help create balance in the workplace.“You have to be working smarter, not harder,” she says. “It’s all about figuring out how you can be the best version of yourself, which can’t be done without setting personal boundaries and healthy habits.”